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so, are flats indeed dull????

Discussion in 'Strings [BG]' started by geodeath, Apr 22, 2010.

  1. geodeath


    Apr 30, 2009
    From what i remember (since i never tried them yet) all reactions i ever got when asking about flatwound strings was that they sound dull and whatnot. That they will not sound cool slapping yada yada yada. That they are good for jazz. Maybe the slap point is right, but while i was browsing the rotosound website to see what kind of strings they offer, i came across the steve harris signature set, which is a FLAT set. How can this be?

    Steve's tone is very bright and it pretty much sets the standard in metal bass tones (along with 2-3 others).. i was surprised to find out he uses flats!

    Whats your opinion with flats? What kind of music do you use them for?
  2. Meatrus


    Apr 5, 2009
    They can be used for any kind of music, until you have tried them, you wont know if they will suit your music really. I personally like them for everything but slap and metal. They are generally more dull than rounds, but there are brighter flats (like Rotos).

    There are a lot of threads here about SH and his flats, so many in fact that I have read far too many, and now know a lot about a player I'm not really interested in!

    So here goes, he uses Rotosounds flats as they are one of the brightest (still more dull than most rounds), he also changes them very fast when the zing dies, which is not often done with flats (as they last for years). Probably most of the brightness comes from amp EQ.

    Hope this helps, I think everyone should try them at least once.
  3. Precision + flats + pick = heaven
  4. snyderz


    Aug 20, 2000
    AZ mountains
    Try them, and tell us what you think.
  5. stflbn


    May 10, 2007
    Harris also changes strings every single show (or during shows), every practice, blah blah blah.

    Chromes and TI Flats are quite bright when brand new, but that wears off. Some flats still remain brighter than others.
  6. darkstorm


    Oct 13, 2009
    Like Meatrus said/ Duller sounding then flats. Rotosounds being about the brightest sounding. And of course rtreble boosting and changing strings frequently if wanting trebly flats sound. Harris imo is going for a softer roundwound sound rather then a flatwound sound for his voice. Though I concider Iron Maiden pop metal rather then heavy metal. Geezer Butler's early days with Sabbath would be more who'd I say contributed to early metals bass sound. But thats just me.
  7. T. Alan Smith

    T. Alan Smith Guest

    Sep 9, 2001
    To my ears, flats only sound dull when the playing is dull. Make your playing exciting, and it won't matter much what strings you use...again, in my experience.

  8. Tru dat!
  9. PSPookie


    Aug 13, 2006
    Ocoee, TN
    It depends on the particular strings and what bass you have them on and how it's set up and your own personal tastes.

    In general, IMO/IME a new set of flats sounds like an old set of nickle rounds. YMMV
  10. Bassman316


    May 27, 2008
    Longs, SC
    Flats are a different animal from rounds. You will usually get more fundamental with flats than you with rounds. With rounds you tend to get more overtones. There are bright flats like the Rotosounds mentioned above. D'Addario Chromes also come to mind. I had a set of Chromes on my P-bass for all of last year, but when I first put them on, they were pretty bright for flats. On the other end of the spectrum are LaBella's- really thumpy, old-school sounding (from what I've read, anyway- I've never tried them).
  11. mellowgerman


    Jan 23, 2008
    Orlando, FL
    I refuse to play anything but flats. They can be applied to countless styles including and beyond jazz. You're probably right about slap... but slap, just as roundwound strings, are two things I personally want nothing to do with, so it works for me.
    I wouldn't call them dull... rather chunky.

    Here's how I apply my flats:

    Also, if you do try them (unless of course you're looking for the Steve Harris bright flats sound), I would recommend getting a used set off TB classifieds... otherwise you won't really be able to "try them out" until a few weeks after buying them. They need to be broken in before they sound right.
  12. kraigo


    Jun 21, 2007
    Minneapolis, MN
    Look for stainless steel flats if you want something a bit brighter. I use Lakland Joe Osborn flats usually, but I've enjoyed Chromes and I'd like to try Sadowsky's and GHS Precision Flats.

    Stainless don't start out as bright as even a nickel rounds, but they retain their brightness for a LONG time. To me they're like a broken in set of Boomers, after initial zing but well before they've lost it. And they pretty much stay there.

  13. mpm32


    Jan 23, 2009
    I imagine he could have quite the side-business packaging and selling his used strings.
  14. geodeath


    Apr 30, 2009
    thanks guys for the replies.
    Of course i will try as many stings as possible!
    it just striked me as weird :)

    Now, just to find a reseller near me...
  15. somegeezer


    Oct 1, 2009
    Flats are only dull compared to rounds. Not neccessarily dull all round. I have a set of Ernie Ball flats on my 5er and I get a really nice Metal brightness when using a pick. Using my fingers I can get a really nice Jazz tone.
  16. Labi


    Jun 14, 2006
    And who wouldn't buy at least one set of "only once used by Steve Harris" strings at half price? I believe there are headbangers who would pay double the price for those :) No ofence to the headbangers tho'. Honestly I wonder where do those strings end up?!
  17. engedi1

    engedi1 Supporting Member

    Sep 16, 2005
    I wouldn't describe them as dull. As with many things on bass, you really need to experience them live to know how great they are sounding. I used only stainless rounds for years, then I tried some TI flats, and let someone else play my bass and listened from the audience. I couldn't believe how great it sounded! Full, deep, punchy, without being boomy, just sat in the mix.
    The bright grindy tone we all love, pretty much disappears, because between the guitars and the cymbals, you are trying to compete for the upper harmonics. Flats, with their stronger fundamental, allow the bass to sit better in the mix (imho of course)
    now, consider that 90% of all the tops hits you can think of were recorded with flats, and how great some of those bass tones are (Beatles!) beach boys, zeppelin, much great 70's rock.
    If you are planning on recording bass solo albums, or slapping alot, then you need a bass with rounds. But if you play ROCK, R an B or blues, then you gotta have at least one bass with flats.
  18. Crabby


    Dec 22, 2004
    I wouldn't want flats on all my basses but i recently bought a set of Chromes for my USA P bass and they are exactly what the doctor ordered! Thumpy and warm but still bright enough. I can pop and slap with ease on them and they offer a different yet completely familiar tone that compliment the p bass. I love em!
  19. Evanseveneleven


    Aug 23, 2009
    Melbourne, Australia
    Endorsing Artist: DR Strings
    I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that I don't think Steve Harris was using flats for the majority of his career. I believe that he probably started on flats about when Blaze joined the band, but all the earlier albums have a very distinctive round wound sound. His sound has changed so much in the last 10 years and I put it down to his change in strings. If you want to get anything close to the sound that Steve is famous for, flats shouldn't come into the equation at all. If you want to sound like the bass on "Dance of Death" (which has production to rival St Anger) then flats will do it with no problem.
    I could be wrong, but the flappy things that protrude out of each side of my head tell me I'm not, and recall reading that he used Rotosound Swing Bass strings back in the day, though I have no physical evidence of that at the moment.
  20. BassyBill

    BassyBill The smooth moderator... Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 12, 2005
    West Midlands UK
    Flats are "dull" in the sense that they have less HF/overtones in their sound than roundwounds. That doesn't mean their sound is "dull" in any other sense, like boring.

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